Bioaccumulation of trace elements in omnivorous amphibian larvae: Implications for amphibian health and contaminant transport

Jason M. Unrine, William A. Hopkins, Christopher S. Romanek, Brian P. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Despite the influence that amphibians have on the flow of energy and nutrients in ecological systems, the role that amphibians play in transporting contaminants through food webs has received very little attention. This study was undertaken to investigate bioaccumulation of trace elements in amphibians relative to other small aquatic organisms in a contaminated wetland. We collected bullfrog larvae (Rana catesbeiana) along with three other species of small vertebrates and four species of invertebrates from a site contaminated with a wide array of trace elements and analyzed them for trace element concentrations and stable nitrogen and carbon isotope composition. We found that amphibian larvae accumulated the highest concentrations of most trace elements, possibly due to their feeding ecology. These results suggest that omnivorous amphibian larvae can serve as a critical link for trace element trophic transfer. Their propensity to accumulate trace elements may have important implications for amphibian health in contaminated environments and should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-192
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, through Financial Assistance Award Nos. DE-FC09-96-SR18546 and DE-FC09-07SR22506. B. Taylor, A. DeBiase, D. Harrelson, L. Paddock, and B. Staub provided technical assistance. This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.


  • Amphibian
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Coral combustion waste
  • Stable isotope
  • Trace element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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